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Some easy things you can do to improve your intelligence, by Shane Parrish of Farnam Street on Quora


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Shane Parrish of Farnam Street had a long answer with lots of Farnam links on Jan 1, 2015:

Despite all of the people wanting to sell you a formula there is none. Sorry.

Charlie Munger said it best: Are You A Learning Machine?:

I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up and boy does that help, particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.

Knowledge is like legoMental Models are the best and most useful blocks. They typically form the foundation and shape the way we see things. In addition to these pieces, explained later, you want to overlay a broad array of both exposure to different subjects as well as life experiences. This will give you a better understanding of not only how the world works, but how you can best use your knowledge and understanding to get what you want. Broad life experiencesIn Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford Commencement Address, Jobs said:

And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and  intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one  example:Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy  instruction in the country.  Throughout the campus every poster, every  label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed.  Because I had  dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to  take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this.  I learned about serif  and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between  different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great.  It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science  can't capture, and I found it fascinating.None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life.   But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh  computer, it all came back to me.  And we designed it all into the Mac.   It was the first computer with beautiful typography. [...]If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this  calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful  typography that they do.  Of course it was impossible to connect the  dots looking forward when I was in college.  But it was very, very clear  looking backwards ten years later. Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only  connect them looking backwards.  So you have to trust that the dots will  somehow connect in your future.

Core principles and mental models

John Reed said:

When you first start to study a field, it seems like you have to memorize a zillion things. You don’t. What you need is to identify the core principles – generally three to twelve of them – that govern the field.

These core principles are mental models. 

Charlie Munger puts it better when he says:

... the first rule is that you can’t really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang ‘em back. If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form.You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience both vicarious and direct on this latticework of models. You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You’ve got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head.What are the models? Well, the first rule is that you’ve got to have multiple models because if you just have one or two that you’re using, the nature of human psychology is such that you’ll torture reality so that it fits your models, or at least you’ll think it does…It’s like the old saying, “To the man with only a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” And of course, that’s the way the chiropractor goes about practicing medicine. But that’s a perfectly disastrous way to think and a perfectly disastrous way to operate in the world. So you’ve got to have multiple models.And the models have to come from multiple disciplines because all the wisdom of the world is not to be found in one little academic department. That’s why poetry professors, by and large, are so unwise in a worldly sense. They don’t have enough models in their heads. So you’ve got to have models across a fair array of disciplines.You may say, “My God, this is already getting way too tough.” But, fortunately, it isn’t that tough because 80 or 90 important models will carry about 90% of the freight in making you a worldly wise person. And, of those, only a mere handful really carry very heavy freight

ok so General Tips.

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